December 16, 2020

Hebrews 12:2

…Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

What does the word “joy” make you think of?

For me, joy means a lot of big smiles and laughter. Joy means fun memories! People I love dearly. Discovering something new and cool. Looking forward to coming events. Savoring delicious food! There are many things that spring to mind when I hear the word joy. 

Now, upon reflection I see my answers are all positive things. And that makes sense. I mean, joy is a positive thing, right? It’s associated with all those “good things in life,” right? So for me, that’s what makes today’s passage all the more perplexing. Jesus went to the cross “for the joy that was set before Him.” It was for joy that Jesus submitted to crucifixion?  Joy?! 

Think about that. Jesus endured humiliation, brutal treatment, physical torture, agonizing pain and an utterly exhausting death, all at the hands of…the people He came to save. And the Scriptures tell us He did it because it brought Him joy.

I don’t care how spiritually mature I hope I am, or hope to become someday; I don’t know if I could ever willingly subject myself to such agony and call it joy.

But I think at least I’m starting to comprehend it. As a parent with multiple children, I have spent my share of nights sleeping on the floor by my children’s beds, watching over them when they were sick and struggling. Catching sleep in 20-minute increments, cleaning up vomit. Those were not pleasant nights.  

But now with most of our children grown, I strangely find myself occasionally longing for those nights again. Nights when a young child needed his or her daddy like that. I miss just being there for that young life in need. To my friends I’d always describe those nights as “miserable” (and yeah, they were!). But I also knew deep down I wouldn’t choose to be anywhere else. Somehow, they brought me joy.

Jesus went to the cross for the joy set before Him. Do you realize, we are that joy! He endured the cross because He loves us that much. He died for us because it brought Him joy to “be there” for us.

What does “joy” make you think of? Ask God to give you a fresh perspective on joy in your life. What might God show you today to give you joy anew? And how might you then share that joy with someone else?

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